25 Dogs That Stay Small Forever

As urbanization leaves many dog enthusiasts living in apartments, small breeds have become increasingly popular. 

A wide range of dogs stays small forever, from the cat-like Italian Greyhound to the dignified English Toy Spaniel. Choosing the right dog for your lifestyle can be challenging, especially with so many choices available. 

To help you find the perfect canine companion in a compact size, we’ve gathered a list of 25 dogs that will always stay teeny tiny and totally loveable. 

1. Pomeranian

Characterized by its sparkling black eyes and curious ears, the sassy silly Pomeranian is notoriously fluffy and resembles tiny red foxes with their plumed tails.

They are the smallest member of the Spitz family tree, weighing 3-7 pounds and standing 6-7 inches tall at the shoulder. 

Like many small dogs, Pomeranians are fearless and will readily bow up to a larger dog in the event of a confrontation. Poms have a robust bark to match their larger-than-life spirit, which can be surprising from such a small pup. 

They bubble over with “big dog” energy, revealing a feisty, fiery personality that aptly matches their ruddy-colored fur. 

2. Yorkshire Terrier

The teeny, tiny Yorkshire Terrier, or Yorkie, is a prototypical forever puppy, rarely growing larger than 7 pounds or taller than 7 inches. 

They are delightfully pixie-ish puppies, originally bred to be passionate ratters small enough for factory workers to carry in their pockets. 

The most notable symbol of the Yorkie is their steely blue, black, and tan coat, which owners often tie into a ribboned top-knot to keep the dog’s vision unobstructed. 

The length of their silky-smooth hair sways with every step giving them a self-important air that’s hard not to find loveable. 

3. Tibetan Spaniel

With the face of a pug and the attitude of a rottweiler, Tibetan Spaniels are endearingly assertive and independent, setting them apart from most other small companion dogs. 

Referred to as “Tibbies” by humans who favor the breed, this maned watchdog is fiercely loyal. They are well-known for giving strangers the cold shoulder, regarding them as a nuisance rather than a source of head scratches and praise. 

When they’re not busy protecting the homestead, a well-trained Tibetan Spaniel is eagerly chasing their favorite toys through the house or perched up in their “watchtower,” such as the backs of furniture. 

4. Italian Greyhound

Lithe, lean, and full of feelings, Italian Greyhounds are a hypoallergenic option for owners who prefer their dogs a little clingy. They are insistent on being as close to their owners as possible and have little patience for lounging anywhere but in their favorite human’s lap. 

While they seem a bit simpering at first glance, Italian Greyhounds are built for breakneck speed. Like their larger cousins, these graceful pups are prone to cases of the “zoomies,” wherein they take laps around their living space to get the wiggles out. 

Italian Greyhounds are infamous burrowers, constantly seeking sources of warmth. If you can’t find your Greyhound, check for it under throw blankets, in the nearest puddle of sunlight, or nestled into your favorite sweater. 

5. Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu’s name means “little lion” in Chinese, harkening back to their origin as a favorite of Ming Dynasty royalty. To their core, they are companion dogs with plenty of pluck to keep their owners entertained. 

Shih Tzus are social butterflies, adoring children, other pets, and their owners in seemingly equal measure. Don’t be surprised if you spend more time meeting and greeting on trips to the park than you do getting any walking done!

Interestingly, they appear in the legend of Buddha, who was said to have traveled with a Shih Tzu. When robbers confronted the pair, the dog transformed into a lion, scaring the ne’er do wells away. Buddha then kissed the pup on the forehead, resulting in the white spot many Shih Tzus still have today.

6. Whippet

Often mistaken for an Italian Greyhound, the Whippet is a slightly larger descendent– around 25 pounds and 18-22 inches tall– favored by Old World hunters for chasing down small prey, like rabbits and squirrels. 

Despite the breed’s history as hunters, they are incredibly gentle and calm. The Whippet is low-maintenance when it comes to grooming, and they are not big barkers. 

Whippets are suitable for apartment dwellers, thanks to their average exercise needs and the great joy they take in curling up with their human for a nap. 

7. Alaskan Klee Kai

Alaskan Klee Kai is all the cuteness, energy, and intelligence of a Husky in a much smaller package! 

This cold-weather companion comes in three sizes: toy, mini, and standard. The smallest of those is only 6-12 pounds and around 12-inches tall, giving it the remarkable appearance of a cuddly stuffed toy.

Don’t let that cuteness fool you, though! Klee Kai will give their owners a run for their money, as their high intelligence and constant vigilance can contribute to some severe damage if they are left unstimulated for long stretches. 

8. Schipperke

Schips are small but mighty barge dogs bred to live and work on ships as ratters. They are the ideal mix of muscular and stealthy, with compact bodies weighing 10-16 pounds on a 10-13 inch tall frame. 

Because of their high work ethic and curiosity, a Schipperke needs early obedience training and a clear hierarchy of who is in charge. Schips tend to rule the roost unless their owners temper their energy with playtime and structure. 

Schipperke fans are often drawn to their foxy faces and dense plumage, particularly plentiful around their neck. 

9. Japanese Spitz

The high-stepping Japanese Spitz sport gorgeous, downy white fur and a playful attitude. While they are not recognized as an official breed by the American Kennel Club, they are growing in popularity because of their intelligence, trainability, and surprisingly low-maintenance grooming needs. 

Many owners are surprised to find that the 10-pound, 12-inch spitfire is a loyal watchdog with a loud bark that seems out of place given the Japanese Spitz’s spritely size. 

They are excellent family dogs who are happy to cohabitate with other animals, children, and adults alike. 

10. West Highland Terrier

West Highland Terriers, or “Westies,” are cheerful, round-faced little companions with erect half-tails and a wiry, snow-white coat often cut short on top, then long around the legs. 

Their eyes are vigilant, like twinkling black pebbles that give away their penchant for mischief. Despite weighing less than 20 pounds and standing under a foot tall, they are courageous, loyal, and seem to run on a praise-powered battery. 

Westies are terriers, through and through, giving chase to just about anything that moves. This plucky attitude makes them eager ratters and mousers. Early training is necessary to quell their playful natures. 

11. Pumi

If you’ve always dreamed of having a pet teddy bear, the 22-29 pound Pumi is a dream come true. Sweet and playful, these Hungarian pups have boundless enthusiasm for anything their owners can throw at them. 

The Pumi has undeniable charm, with curly rosettes of fur and expressive ears showing their eagerness to please. They are incredibly agile, seeming to prance rather than walk, and are happiest when they are herding.

Their work ethic does little to dampen their sense of fun, though. Pumi is just as eager to play fetch as it brings a corral of sheep to order. 

12. Chihuahua

Of course, no list of tiny pooches would be complete without including the spunky, spirited Chihuahua. Despite their tiny size, their prominent personalities have awarded them status as the national dog of Mexico. 

Weighing in at less than 6 pounds and standing a mere 5-8 inches tall, they are the proverbial “purse” pet, made famous by Paris Hilton’s Chihuahua Tinkerbell. 

Chis are ideal apartment pets, thanks to their compact size. Remember to keep your apartment warm in the wintertime and have plenty of cozy sweaters on hand, as they are not cold weather dogs. 

13. Coton de Tulear

If you could somehow turn all of the brightness and warmth of the first spring day into a puppy, it would be a Coton de Tulear. They only weigh between 9-15 pounds but boast long lives of nearly 20 years. 

Despite being known as the “Royal Dog of Madagascar,” they are more similar to a court jester than high-brow nobility, as they are clever entertainers who delight in making their owners laugh. 

Coton de Tulear is a beautiful companion. They possess a seemingly human ability to sympathize with their loved ones, drawing on their sense of humor and knack for dancing on their hind legs to banish your blues. 

14. Maltese

Even in biblical times, the Maltese sat on the laps of royalty. Their lush, floor-length coats are high maintenance, but the compact bodies underneath are built for play. At less than 7 pounds, they are fearless and, with proper training, can easily beat the competition in agility. 

For those who enjoy snuggling up with their dog, Maltese won’t disappoint. They are unwavering in their affection and adore long hours curled up with their owner. 

Surprisingly, Maltese is a safe option for those with sensitivities to dog hair, as their coats are low-shedding. Just be sure to have a reliable groomer on hand to maintain all of that luscious length. 

15. Volpino Italiano

Volpino Italiano, or “little Italian fox,” is a cousin of the Pomeranian and the German Spitz. They have a very thick undercoat that requires quite a bit of maintenance but do better when baths are few and far between, as they are prone to dry, itchy skin. 

Every inch of their 10-16 pound frame is jam-packed with affection, earning them the ranking of “lovey-dovey” on the official AKC Affection scale. 

This breed prefers a peaceful existence, lavishing in long days spent cuddling up with their family, but are incredibly apt in agility training.  

For artists in need of a canine muse, Volpino Italiano could be a source of inspiration. Some records show that Michelangelo, one of the world’s most famous artists, was a proud breed owner. 

16. Toy Poodle

Toy Poodles are a classic choice in the small dog category; they are the most miniature version of the breed, coming in at a highly portable 4-6 pounds. 

Their small size is no indication of their prominent personalities, though. They have long favored aristocrats and noblewomen, given their charm and human-like intelligence. Toy poodles are popular show dogs for the same reason, quickly taking on the best breeds in obedience courses. 

For the sporty types, poodles are excellent retrievers, though the job is typically reserved for their larger kin. The toy size can make for entertaining and enthusiastic games of fetch around the backyard. 

17. Papillon

For owners who have been searching high and low for a canine that truly embodies the spirit of a playful puppy, Papillons are the dog you’ve always dreamed of. They’re hardy, alert, and always up for an adventure. 

Named for its butterfly-wing ears, the Papillon is a curious and happy athlete with a gorgeous, soft coat. While their small size– between 5-10 pounds and 8-11 inches tall– makes them appear dainty and delicate, they are sporty pooches that easily master even the most complicated tricks. 

They come in various coat patterns on a white base and two different ear shapes, either at attention or flopped over. 

18. Pembroke Welsh Corgi

The Pembroke Welsh Corgi is full of surprises. The breed hardly seems like the hardy herding type with big bat-like ears and soft eyes. Yet, its long body and low center of gravity make it exceptionally adept at navigating around the groups of sheep Corgis often find in their care. 

Corgis are incredibly muscular, standing around 10-15 inches tall but regularly tipping scales at 30 pounds. They need plenty of space to run, jump, and play to avoid becoming overweight, which is common in the breed.

Queen Elizabeth has owned more than 30 corgis in her lifetime, a cadre of pups endearingly called “The Royal Corgis.” Her affection for the canines is even immortalized in a bronze statue!

19. American Eskimo Dog

At around 30 pounds and 15-19 inches tall, you likely won’t find this puff of a pup hauling sleighs over the icy Alaskan landscape. Still, the Eskie comes with a rough-and-ready personality coupled with uncanny intelligence. They initially made a name for themselves as circus acts, given that they take to tricks like a fish takes to water. 

Their clever intellect makes them endearing watchdogs, quick to become suspicious of any unusual activity.

 For that reason, some owners may begin to find their barking problematic, as Eskies have little qualms with leaping out of a dead sleep at a moment’s notice to protect their people from squirrels, neighbors, and the postman. 

20. English Toy Spaniel

The poised and dignified English Toy Spaniel always seems to wear a look of haughty disdain, but they are quite gentle and loving. The breed is comfortable with other pets and children, making it ideal for families. 

English Toy Spaniels have several remarkable physical traits, from their gorgeously long ears covered in curls to their square head, capped off with an upturned nose. They stay pocket-sized, a mere 9-10 inches and 8-14 points. 

Purebreds come in four standard coat colors: Blenheim (red and white), Ruby (red), King Charles (black and tan), and Prince Charles (white, black, and tan). 

21. French Bulldog

The dapper French Bulldog often called a “Frenchie” is the less drooly, much more petite version of their English kin. At less than 28 pounds and with irresistibly smushed snouts, this pampered pooch thrives in the spotlight. 

One of their most charming features is their enormous bat ears above their square heads. They also have very smooth coats in various colors, making them one of the most aesthetically versatile small dogs available. 

22. Havanese

Similar in size and appearance to a Bichon Frise, the Havanese is the national dog of Cuba, hence its name. 

Like many smaller breeds, the 7-13 pound Havanese was famous within the ruling families. They have sweet, easy-going personalities with plenty of love to give. 

The breed is striking in appearance, sporting silky, hypoallergenic hair and a dapper tail that folds over their back, which cutely bounces when they show off one of Havanese hallmarks, a bouncy, limber gait. 

23. Tibetan Terrier

Floppy-haired Tibetan Terriers are a rare breed, originally raised as companionable canines for the monks of their homeland. Despite their name, they are less terrier than they are teddy bears. The misnomer comes simply from their small size rather than their lineage. Typically, they weigh around 18-22 pounds and achieve heights between 14-17 inches. 

Tibetan terriers are highly sensitive, bordering on the needy, given their history as companion dogs. Families who plan to leave their “TT” alone for hours and hours will likely find that their pup suffers from separation anxiety. The breed does well with other dogs to help them fulfill their socialization needs. 

24. Shetland Sheepdog

Shelties have origins on Scotland’s Shetland Islands, where they boast a long and illustrious history as farm dogs. They are versatile workers, providing protection, herding, and an eager-to-please companionship ideal for long days working the fields. 

The breed’s affection and energy know no bounds, and they will insist on having the family’s attention. They are reserved around strangers, prone to fits of barking should anyone unfamiliar approach the property. 

Shelties rank 6th in intelligence according to animal intelligence expert Dr. Stanley Coren, given their ability to learn commands in fewer than five attempts. 

25. Dachshund

Dachshunds are genuinely iconic, with silly bodies, spunky personalities, and short legs. Their name means “badger dog” in German, a hallmark of their keen hunting skills and ability to squeeze into small caves. 

The miniature version of the breed comes in at less than 11 pounds, though they can be quite a bit smaller, depending on their parentage. They are extremely short, typically standing around 5 inches at the shoulder. 

Owners will note that their dachshund has a passion for digging, whether it’s in the yard or into their favorite blanket. It’s not uncommon to lose your “wiener dog,” only to find them hours later nestled underneath a sweater for a well-deserved nap. 

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